Prof N. Labuschagne
Professor Plant Pathology
Section: Plant Pathology
Office: Agricultural building 2-15
Tel: +27 (0)12 420 3282
Overview of research
My main research focus is on root/ soil-borne diseases with emphasis on etiology and control. The research encompasses both biological and chemical control of fungal pathogens as well as plant parasitic nematodes. Resistance against root-infecting fungi is being studied with an emphasis on resistance mechanisms. Research experience includes etiology and control of diseases caused by Chalara elegans (Thielaviopsis basicola), Fusarium solani and F oxysporum, Phytophthora nicotianae, P. cinnamomi, Pythium spp. and phytopathogenic nematodes on a number of crops.
1. Current research on soil-borne diseases: Resistance against soil-borne diseases with emphasis on mechanisms involved. Effect of soluble silicon application on root rot of avocados, caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi. Resistance of sitrus rootstocks against root rot caused by P. nicotiane. Chemical and biological control of various soil-borne diseases including vegetable crops.
2. Integrated disease management of phytopathogenic nematodes.This research includes screening for resistance, efficacy of biofumigation, soil solarisation soil amendments and endophytes against plant parasitic nematodes.
3. Diseases in hydroponic (soilless) systems.This research programme focuses on disease control strategies in hydroponic systems with particular emphasis on root pathogens such as Pythium. The etiology and control of Pythium wilt and root rot in hydroponics is being studied and includes chemical and biological control. Important facets of this research are water treatment, substrate disinfestation and development of an integrated control strategy for crops grown in soilless culture.
4. Biological control by means of plant growth-promoting rizobacteria (PGPR). Rhizobacterial isolates are being assessed for their growth-promoting abilities as well as biocontrol efficacy in selected host-pathogen systems. This research focuses on fungal root pathogens and adresses mechanisms of action of biocontrol agents. A number of PGPR's have been successfully commercialized as biocontrol agents and biofertilizers.